Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Trying out Tone

The tone of your writing is something that you must monitor throughout the process. The same thing can be said dozens of different ways simply by changing the tone. Characters tie into tone and tone ties into genre, and in the end, if they don't marry well, your book isn't going to fly.

For example. If you're writing about a taciturn ranch hand as the hero of your high fantasy novel and you set the tone of it with an opening line as florid as a girl's love note, we have a problem. Sure, your taciturn ranch hand could be a secret romantic, but somehow I don't think gushy is going to come off as believable.

Three different tones, same idea:

The sky was green and cloudy.

The verdant heavens rolled above me, twisting illusions in the cumulus.

Green skies. Tornado weather.

See that? Each of these says the same thing, but in three separate tones. One, is boring. Two, is florid and three is reticent. Got a character who doesn't talk much? Well book! Short, clipped sentences it is!

Your tone can express so much with so little. I am well known as the queen of the sentence fragment. I use them, abuse them and love them. A sentence fragment can be the right call in the right situation. Our taciturn ranch hand certainly comes off as brusque in option three, doesn't he?

Experimenting with tone changes can help your writing. Something not working in your story? Perhaps it's nothing to do with the plot, perhaps it's the tone!

The tone makes the story. Brings the landscape of words to life. Breathes a voice into the descriptions. So don't ever be afraid to try out different tones. You may get unexpected, and fun results!

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